Michael Wileniec is a 21-year-old Canadian student living with hereditary multiple exostoses. Each morning he wakes up in excruciating pain due to the benign tumors that grow on bone endings as a result of his condition. Multiple surgeries have interrupted his studies and now school officials say that Michael can no longer medicate with his prescribed medical marijuana while on campus.
Michael was first prescribed to medical marijuana 6 years ago. Since then, Wileniec says his quality of life has improved considerably. Nutana Collegiate (of Saskatchewan) has been allowing Michael to use medical marijuana for two and a half years, but now school officials have changed their decision.
Up until last week, Wileniec had been allowed to consume marijuana outside of the school buildings between classes. His peers and teachers were all aware of his conditions and no one seemed to have a problem with his prescribed medication. Now, a letter from his superintendent is telling Wileniec that he must consume his medication off premises.
In a statement Friday, a spokesperson for the school said that the rules for medical marijuana are no different than any other potentially mind-altering prescriptions. The statement said, “We would be concerned whether anyone – either student or staff – was on school grounds while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether prescription or otherwise.”
Wileniec feels that he has been treated unfairly, citing other students using prescription narcotics on school grounds. Fellow student Xander Nichol agrees, saying “How are you no longer safe because he is medicating with marijuana? We need to acknowledge the medical value, not run from it.”
In the mean time, school authorities say they will work with Wileniec to ensure that he finishes school. They will offer take-home work and open their doors to him when he is not under the influence of medical marijuana.
This week, Health Canada issued letters to medical marijuana providers warning them to stray away from sexed-up advertising that make their products look and sound appealing. The new set of regulations is set to take effect on January 12 and will threaten to take away licensing for noncompliant marijuana distributors.
Health Canada is Canada’s federal department responsible for overseeing public health concerns, and has recently taken a firm stance on what can and cannot be used in marketing marijuana products. The department reached out to 20 distributors in personalized letters warning of the tightened regulations. The strict guidelines dictate how products are displayed on websites, social media, and even restrict linking to third-party sites and services.
Health Canada says, “The information provided by licensed producers to the public should be limited to basic information for prospective clients such as the brand name, proper or common name of the strain, the price per gram, the cannabinoid content, and the company’s contact information.”
This comes in stark contrast of some Canadian marijuana producers’ lofty goals. We recently took a look at what may be deemed as Canada’s luxury marijuana brand, Hydropothecary, which will likely suffer from these type of restrictions in marketing language. However, dispensary owners are remaining optimistic.
Marc Wayne, CEO of Bedrocan Canada said, “We welcome the clarity and enforcement … and the level playing field.” Ottawa lawyer Trina Fraser says that the words treats, relieves, and prevents may be out-of-bounds when describing medicinal properties of different strains. With little information about how the strains work available to the public, distributors may turn to a one-on-one consultative experience that guides medical patients to the right strain.
Currently there are only 22 licensed medical marijuana providers in Canada, but around 1,000 are in line behind them. Though Health Canada hasn’t yet limited the number of cannabis producers for the country, they will likely continue to tighten regulations in an effort to raise standards for providers.
What looks like Canada’s most promising premium marijuana brand has recently received a license to produce medical marijuana. The brand hasn’t yet acquired the licensing need to sell marijuana, but will likely receive the go-ahead after necessary government testing.
Hydropothecary’s co-founder Adam Miron says that there is still unmet demand in Canada, most notably in high-quality marijuana. The Quebec-based company has been around for a little over a year and a half, but has already begun branding their product and the experience they hope to offer customers.
With premium products come premium prices.
The company has created what looks to be 4 distinct experiences with their product, all priced at 2 to 3 times higher than what other retailers might charge for a gram. Ranging from $26 a gram to $32 a gram, the company offers a different strain for every part of the day.
From their packaging previews, each one-gram sample looks akin to what craft brewers or Scotch lovers might receive in holiday gift set. The discreet boxes and velvet lined interiors could be mistaken for jewelry boxes.
The pricing will be justified in their superior customer service. Hydropothecary’s Adam Miron says the company guarantees supply, delivery, and around-the-clock service. For Canadian medical marijuana patients looking for premium product and guaranteed access to their meds, this could be the go-to.
Though not yet permitted to sell, it is likely that the company will receive approval to dispense medicine in the next two months. With their grows in progress now, their By The Bud website says they will be ready to go just 77 days from right now. That’s just enough time to turn around a quick harvest.
As the medical marijuana industry becomes more saturated in North America, discerning consumers will likely demand the option of premium products and the premium branding that comes along with it. It looks like Hydropothecary will be there to meet those demands.
The largest teaching center for the treatment of mental health and addiction in Canada has publicly declared that legalizing and strictly regulating marijuana for adults is the best marijuana policy option for the people of Canada. This policy aims to provide proper cannabis education for young people, and promote public health.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, is not suggesting legalizing cannabis in the same manner in which Colorado legalized the plant. Instead, they believe the government should have complete control of cultivation, sales, distribution and regulation of 100% of the marijuana market.
In the video below, Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH explains,
“Canada’s current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms associated with cannabis use. Based on a thorough review of the evidence, we believe that legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis is the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use.”
The CAMH aims to make sure that young Canadians understand the possible risks associated with smoking marijuana, with emphasis on the effects of smoking it at a young age, as opposed to waiting to consume as an adult.
Dr. Rehm, also points out that strict punishments for cannabis does not prevent people from using it. The CAMH suggests the government take over, and “monopolize” the marijuana market because strict regulation will be more effective than harsh punishments.
Would this policy change prevent private growers from selling their cannabis on the black-market? Will it really inspire all private growers to destroy crops, and agree to only purchase cannabis from the government?
Photo Credit: CAMH
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